Warning! Red Hat CEO proclaims a paradigm shift now sweeping through tech industry
In a blog post dated Sept. 22, Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat, covers a wide range of topics, including numerous recent acquisitions and partnerships. All of these items illuminate the company's growing focus on cloud and mobile computing platforms and technologies. Here's an extended quote from that post, which explains Mr. Whitehurst's thinking on this topic:
Right now, we're in the midst of a major shift from client-server to cloud-mobile. It's a once-every-20-years kind of change. As history has shown us, in the early days of those changes, winners emerge that set the standards for that era — think Wintel in the client-server arena. We're staring at a huge opportunity — the chance to become the leader in enterprise cloud, much like we are the leader in enterprise open source. The competition is fierce, and companies will have several choices for their cloud needs. But the prize is the chance to establish open source as the default choice of this next era, and to position Red Hat as the provider of choice for enterprises' entire cloud infrastructure.
I happen to agree with this insight, and believe myself that the shape of computing as we've known it since the inception of "network computing" (another cognomen for our present "client-server" arrangement) is in the process of changing almost beyond recognition. The same plumbing — the TCP/IP protocols and services that support the Internet, along with the increasing proliferation of wireless technologies of ever-increasing speeds — is still in place. The IT undergirding that made is possible to transition from "mainframe and minicomputers talking to terminals" to "PC clients talking to a variety of different kinds of servers" is now supporting the shift into the next phase of computing. This time around, IT increasingly involves handheld mobile devices on the "client" or demand side talking to cloud-based information services and assets on the "server" or supply side.
What does this mean for IT professionals? A lot, actually. Our knowledge bases may not need to be entirely replaced, but they will certainly need to be turned over and restocked with a different set of concepts and conditions, along with the skills and knowledge necessary to support them. Just as physical servers have started to migrate out of server rooms and datacenters and into the cloud, so also must IT skillsets do likewise. I can see this trend in motion with networking, where software defined networking and network function virtualization are increasingly supplanting the now "old school" devices and tools used to manage switches, routers, and other elements of networking infrastructures. Ditto for databases, data warehousing, applications (or should I say "apps" instead?) development, and on and on and on.
Let's face it: Mr. Whitehurst has a definite clue as to what's transforming the industry right here, right now. And we IT pros can either cling to the familiar and established side of this emerging divide, riding out own obsolescence into the ground, or we can jump the gap while it's still relatively narrow and start climbing the new and rising hills on the cloud and mobile side instead. It's really no longer a matter of "if" — it's completely a question of "how" and "when." I suggest, therefore, that all IT professionals at least keep an eye on key technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing, mobile computing, SDN and NFV, and all the supporting management tools and technologies that come with them. If you don't jump onto one or more of those horses and start learning to ride, then you'll be missing a vital and critical chance to keep pace with emerging skillsets and acquire important new knowledge.
To that end, readers might also want to consult some of my recent articles for Tom's IT Pro, and some recent PearsonITCertification.com blog posts as well – namely the following:
Best Virtualization Certifications for 2014 (Jan. 30, update due around the end of this year for 2015)
Best Cloud IT Certifications for 2014 (May 28)
Best Mobility Certifications for 2014 (April 2)
Best Wireless Networking Certifications for 2014 (Jan. 3, update due early next year)
Free NFV Training and Certification from Brocade (July 14)
Dig into Software Define Networking (SDN) (Aug. 7)
SDN Certs: Who and When? (Nov. 20, 2013)
There's plenty to do and lots to learn if we're all going to move on up into the new paradigm. Better get cracking!
[Note: This piece was informed and inspired by a blog post from Ron Miller on September 25 for Intronis.com entitled "Red Hat Declares Client-Server Computing Era Over." It's also worth a read, so please check it out!]